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golden retriever chewing rawhide bone

Is rawhide bad for dogs?

Dogs love to chew. It helps them relieve stress and keeps their mouths and jaws in good condition. And if we can keep our pooches away from our favourite pair of slippers with a tasty treat, why wouldn’t we? 

Rawhide is cheap, long-lasting and odourless, so on paper it seems like a perfect option to fulfil your dog’s chewing needs.

However, rawhide hasn’t got the best reputation with lots of dog owners. Let’s take a look at what rawhide is and why it might be dangerous for your dog. 

What is rawhide?

It’s a common misconception that rawhide chews are made from dried meat. Rawhide is a by-product of the leather industry, not the meat industry.

Rawhide is the processed hide of animals, typically cows, although it can also be sheep, pigs or other animals. 

Chewing has lots of benefits for dogs. For growing pups, chewing can relieve pain caused by teething. For older dogs, chewing can help to keep teeth clean and their jaws in top condition.

Chewing is also an enriching activity for dogs, keeping boredom at bay and even relieving anxiety. 

It’s important that your dog is given chews that are safe, and that’s why there’s a problem with some rawhides. 

jack russell eating a rawhide bone

Is rawhide safe for dogs? 

In the UK, rawhide doesn’t have to adhere to any health regulations, because it isn’t classed as food. This means that you have to keep a close eye out when selecting which chew treats to give your dog.  

Due to different production processes, it’s difficult to say if all rawhide treats are dangerous for dogs, although there are a number of risks associated. Rawhide quickly becomes stringy and stretchy like bubblegum when chewed, which can lead to choking, digestive problems and internal blockages.

The problems associated with rawhide ingestion can easily result in a trip to the vet. Removing trapped pieces of rawhide can sometimes require surgery. 

Aside from the risk involved with choking and blockages, rawhide sometimes contains toxic chemicals, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Human’s can also be at risk if they come into contact with harmful bacteria that can be found on rawhide.  

What are the alternatives?

Thankfully, there are lots of safe chew toys available, as well as plenty of natural alternatives to rawhide, such a buffalo horns, deer antlers and ostrich bones. 

There’s also a great selection of enrichment toys and dog treats available at the My Family Vets online shop. Here are a few of our favourites that will keep your dog occupied for hours! 

KONG AirDog® Squeaker Dumbbell Dog Toy

KONG AirDog® Squeaker Dumbbell Dog Toy

KONG AirDog® Squeaker Dumbbell combines two classic dog toys, the tennis ball and the squeaker to create the perfect fetch toy. The non-abrasive, high-quality material will not wear down dogs' teeth. Find your dog's favorite AirDog shape and let the games begin.  


Beco Dual Texture Dog Toy Tiger

Beco Dual Texture Dog Toy Tiger

It’s playtime and your dog needs you. Whether you’re playing tug-o-war, fetch or hide & seek, Tilly the tiger is here to help. Made from sustainably sourced materials, including recycled plastic, hemp and recycled cotton, she’s here to make sure you get the most from playtime. A squeak in the head, rustle in the tail, and hemp ring to teeth, Tilly is a great all round soft toy for puppies and dogs.

Need more info?

For more info on what treats to give your pet, have a chat with your local vet or speak to a vet online today. Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page.